Hamilton hopes Whitmarsh has forgiven him for McLaren exit

Lewis Hamilton says he hopes ex-McLaren Formula 1 boss Martin Whitmarsh has forgiven him by now for leaving the team to join Mercedes at the end of 2012.

Hamilton hopes Whitmarsh has forgiven him for McLaren exit

After rising through junior motorsport as part of McLaren’s young driver programme and making his F1 debut for the team in 2007, Hamilton won his maiden world championship in 2008.

Hamilton opted to leave McLaren at the end of 2012 to join a Mercedes team that had up to then won just a single race since returning to F1 with a works team in 2010.

But the decision proved to be the right one, with Hamilton on-course to win his sixth world title for Mercedes and seventh overall this year.

He has taken 70 race wins for Mercedes, the latest drawing him level with Michael Schumacher’s all-time recede of 91 victories. By comparison, McLaren has failed to win a single grand prix since Hamilton’s exit, scoring five podium finishes in last eight season.

Hamilton’s call to leave McLaren was questioned widely at the time, and he acknowledged last weekend ahead of the Eifel Grand Prix that it was “one of the hardest decisions” to make.

“Without their support, along with Mercedes, I wouldn’t have made it to Formula 1, being that it is so expensive so there was no way, as family, that we had the sorts of money that some other families are able to throw at this sport,” Hamilton said.

“So my loyalty was to them, but at the time, I had to think about what the future would hold and what I wanted to be a part of.

“I wanted to be a part of a team that perhaps hadn’t had as much success, was in the growing phase, and I wanted to be a part of that, that growing journey, building something relatively new.

“That was an exciting challenge and I didn’t know how long it was going to be until we got to winning ways. But I truly, truly believed that we would get there at some stage.”

Read Also:

Hamilton said informing then-McLaren team principal Whitmarsh that he would be leaving the team in the autumn of 2012 was a particularly difficult conversation to have. 

"Calling my boss, calling Martin in particular, was one of the hardest calls that I’ve ever had to make,” Hamiltons said.

“I hope that he has forgiven me by now! I think so, because he understands, but ultimately I think it was the right decision.

“I knew it was the right decision for me personally and I think that is how life is generally: nobody can tell you what to do, only you will know personally what is right or wrong for yourself.

“You can’t have anyone else influence that decision. As long as you do your homework, you have got to do what is right for you, and at the time, that is what I did.”

shares
comments

Related video

Has Red Bull’s front wing trick cured its aero anomalies?

Previous article

Has Red Bull’s front wing trick cured its aero anomalies?

Next article

Grosjean "hugely interested" in Peugeot Hypercar drive

Grosjean "hugely interested" in Peugeot Hypercar drive
Load comments

About this article

Series Formula 1
Drivers Lewis Hamilton
Teams McLaren
Author Luke Smith
The AlphaTauri improvements that mean Gasly’s form is no fluke Prime

The AlphaTauri improvements that mean Gasly’s form is no fluke

Pierre Gasly has driven superbly since demotion from Red Bull in 2019, but the team formerly known as Toro Rosso has come on strong too – building a car that can often challenge Ferrari and McLaren. Here Gasly reveals to ALEX KALINAUCKAS how AlphaTauri has given him the tools needed to rebuild his reputation

Why Bottas feels the time has come to be “more selfish” Prime

Why Bottas feels the time has come to be “more selfish”

We’ve seen five distinct versions of Valtteri Bottas at Mercedes as he’s tried to fulfil his own ambitions while being a consummate team player – two difficult, competing missions which have been challenging to reconcile. Speaking exclusively to Stuart Codling, Bottas explains his highs and lows… and why he still believes he can be world champion.

Formula 1
May 15, 2021
How long can Verstappen and Hamilton keep it clean? Prime

How long can Verstappen and Hamilton keep it clean?

Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen have been evenly matched so far in the 2021 Formula 1 title race. Neither has been afraid to get aggressive against each other on track, teeing up an enthralling contest as the year unwinds. But how long will their battle remain clean? Jonathan Noble ponders that exact point

Formula 1
May 13, 2021
How Brabham’s one-hit wonder was boxed into a corner Prime

How Brabham’s one-hit wonder was boxed into a corner

The Brabham BT46B raced once, won once, then vanished – or did it? STUART CODLING reveals the story of the car which was never actually banned…

Formula 1
May 11, 2021
The changes Barcelona needs to provide a modern-day F1 spectacle Prime

The changes Barcelona needs to provide a modern-day F1 spectacle

Formula 1’s visits to Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya over recent years have been met with familiar criticisms despite tweaks here and there to the track to improve racing. With the 2021 Spanish Grand Prix largely going the same way, proper solutions need to be followed to achieve F1’s wider targets

Formula 1
May 10, 2021
Spanish Grand Prix Driver Ratings Prime

Spanish Grand Prix Driver Ratings

Often described as Formula 1's laboratory, the Circuit de Catalunya-Barcelona gave the clearest demonstration yet of the pecking order in 2021. And it's the key discrepancies from that order which illuminate who is excelling, and who needs to hit the reset button.

Formula 1
May 10, 2021
How Red Bull's deja vu set Hamilton on the winning path in Spain Prime

How Red Bull's deja vu set Hamilton on the winning path in Spain

An aggressive first corner move from Max Verstappen appeared to have set the Red Bull driver on course for victory in the Spanish Grand Prix. But canny strategy from Mercedes - combined with the absence of Red Bull's number two from the lead group - allowed Lewis Hamilton to pull off a demoralising reversal

Formula 1
May 10, 2021
The Barcelona practice times that prove Red Bull has hidden pace Prime

The Barcelona practice times that prove Red Bull has hidden pace

Lewis Hamilton led the way in Friday practice for the 2021 Spanish Grand Prix, but there was one major encouraging sign for Red Bull. However, making good on that gain will require Max Verstappen to avoid repeating a mistake that left him well down the FP2 order...

Formula 1
May 7, 2021